June 27th was a ten miler. At least, by the end of the day I felt like I’d walked ten miles. Nijo Castle, in the center of Kyoto, was definitely worth the trip – although I was a bit disappointed on a few counts. So don’t get quite as excited as I did beforehand.
You can’t take photos inside the castle. The “Nightingale Floors,” designed to squeak with each step to alert the Shogun to intruders, don’t squeak much anymore (and sound nothing like a bird). And in the very nice gardens, 80% of the paths were roped off – so views and camera angles were quite limited.
On the upside, it’s very old, has a rich history, and is quite a beautiful work of architectural art. Here’s my attempt an an artistic shot of Nijo Castle sans tourists.
And one of the gardens, filled with very traditionally-pruned trees:
I also visited the Manga Museum (no photos allowed), and the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden where the Imperial Palace is located (not open to tourists, but sometimes private tours).
While in the garden, I saw a cluster of Japanese with massive cameras pointed at the canopy of a huge camphor tree. I joined this crowd of 400mm f/4 lenses with my puny 200mm f/5.6, and managed to spot this guy. If I’d known Japanese, I would have asked to try the big Nikon (it was around 400-600mm, not sure). Here’s the sharpest I could do without a tripod, using my 18-200mm VR.
Did I mention that I love Japanese Maples? Especially the red-leafed ones!
I’ll just include one shot from Arashiyama Monkey Park, where some very tame Japanese Monkeys (also known as Snow Monkeys) live. I still have to email the monkey family this portrait. You have no idea how long it took the parents to get their little one to stay still for the camera.
Tomorrow I visit the first city in human history to be nuclear bombed. What is Hiroshima like now, and how do they portray their grisly legacy? I’ll do my best to show you.